What is a “governmental unit” under the Bankruptcy Code?
The Bankruptcy Code defines “governmental unit” as follows:
The term “governmental unit” means United States; State; Commonwealth; District; Territory; municipality; foreign state; department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States (but not a United States trustee while serving as a trustee in a case under this title), a State, a Commonwealth, a District, a Territory, a municipality, or a foreign state; or other foreign or domestic government.
“In 2005, Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (the BAPCPA), Pub.L. No. 109–8, 119 Stat. 23 (2005).” Hersh v. U.S. ex rel. Mukasey, 553 F.3d 743, 746 (5th Cir. 2008). BAPCPA made a variety of changes to the Bankruptcy Code including the addition of sections 526, 527 and 528 which provide various regulations for “debt relief agencies.” 11 U.S.C. §§ 526-528. See also Milavetz, Gallop & Milavetz, P.A. v. United States, 559 U.S. 229, 130 S. Ct. 1324, 176 L. Ed.
There are some interesting aspects of the definition of “attorney” in the Bankruptcy Code. Specifically, it provides that “attorney” “means attorney, professional law association, corporation, or partnership, authorized under applicable law to practice law.” 11 U.S.C. § 101(4). This raises questions about what an individual attorney is, whether the required authorization to practice is state, federal or both, which court(s) have the ability to police professional conduct, and whether an association, corporation or partnership ever authorized to practice law.